Saturday, August 11, 2007

For Someone Else

Been thinking about journaling lately and remembered another journal I kept: a travel journal of my time in Australia. I found a great little bound journal and I wrote about the boys I met, the places I traveled, the animals I held/touched/pet/fed and the parties we had. It was neither profound nor really that interesting. When I later put together a scrap book based on my trip, I included some quotes from the journal with the intention of scrapping the journal altogether.

When I told my good friend D about this plan, she said there was no way this was a good idea and that I had to keep the journal, if not for myself, then for her. I offerred her the journal which she declined while still insisting that I keep it. It's this request, really, that got my wheels turning more than thoughts of the journal itself. She wanted me to keep the journal of not very interesting things for her. Not so that she could read it, which would have been better facilitated by her keeping the journal since she lived on one coast and I moved to the other, but so that she knew it was there.

By extension I started thinking about other requests people make of one to something for them. E owns two couches - the overstuffed and very comfortable loveseat was given by her mother and the hide-a-bed full length, but surprisingly good-in-a-small-space sofa was given to her by her father and step-mother. When she thought of selling one or both couches when we moved into our tiny condo, her mother threw a fit at the notion of E selling the sofa she had gotton her -had she gotton rid of it, it would mean that E didn't love her mother and furthermore, if she kept the hide-a-bed, it would mean a preference for the dad and step-mother. It's like that with gifts, too and not just for E - this happens to almost everyone. People pull some things out of storage and put them on prominent display when relatives come to call to show how highly they prize the gifts people have gotton them.

The idea that I have about this is that doing something for another person can be okay, but it can also lead to being something for another person. For example, E is a packrat and lots of the things she keeps are things that came from her mother. She started off doing something: saving things and then started being something: a packrat. I know that's my label, but even if you take the word away, there is this tendancy that has become a real and unhealthy habit not of her own choosing. And I only use E as an example because this is a really easy one to relate to and talk about. I can talk about her and not myself.

It's a lot more scary to talk about the things that I do and what they might possibly allow me to become if I am not mindful. For the time being, though, I guess I can be glad of the 3,000 miles between my family and I: the gifts are small and infrequent, they rarely visit and they don't notice or care if I don't have them anymore.

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